The Baikal pulp mill, a longtime target of environmental activists, has turned off hot water supply to the nearby city of Baikalsk over the city’s debts, the mill said on Friday.
Utilities companies in Baikalsk, which has a population of 14,000, have run up a debt of almost 43 million rubles ($1.3 million) to the mill, which manages the city’s heat supply system, the mill said on its website.
Despite numerous discussions and warnings, city authorities and companies have failed to properly follow through on debt payments, the mill said.
The mill was running low on coal and had to turn off either its own production or the heat supply system, the statement said, adding that the likely bankruptcy of the Baikal pulp mill could have been a factor in the city’s decision to withhold contracted payment.
No city officials commented on the allegations on Friday. Irkutsk Governor Sergei Yeroshchenko said on Thursday that he would not allow hot water to be shut off in Baikalsk.
The paper mill, launched in 1966, was shut down in 2008 over environmental concerns. In 2010, then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin authorized the plant, controlled by businessman Nikolai Makarov, to resume operations despite the fact that it was still contributing to pollution of the world’s biggest and deepest fresh water lake.
The mill, which was fined 25 million rubles in 2011 for environmental pollution, according to Rossiiskaya Gazeta, faces bankruptcy because the Environment Ministry did not extend its sewage disposal license, which runs out in mid-August.